Jaap van Zweden / Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphony No. 1

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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson

While it hasn't yet achieved the popularity of Anton Bruckner's later symphonies, such as the Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, "Romantic," or the Symphony No. 7 in E major, the Symphony No. 1 in C minor has received serious attention from several conductors since the millennium, especially those who have recorded the composer's original versions in complete cycles. In this recording of the 1866 Linz version, edited by Leopold Nowak, Jaap van Zweden and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra give a clear-headed and vigorous performance that is one of the finest available on hybrid SACD, as part of their exceptional series of Bruckner recordings for Challenge Classics. Like its predecessors, this release is an outstanding audiophile presentation that demonstrates the originality of Bruckner's early symphonies and makes the case for the value of the earliest versions, notwithstanding the unresolved debate about Bruckner's intentions in revising them. Van Zweden is an eloquent interpreter of this music, meticulous with rhythm and timing, yet fully expressive in his interpretation without resorting to excessive rubato or exaggerated phrasing. Instead, he delivers a fiery reading that is exciting for its propulsive energy and impressive sonorities, and listeners will come away convinced of the symphony's coherence and true value in Bruckner's canon.

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